David Walker, the former Comptroller General of the United States, has stepped up his critical analysis of the city’s taxing policies in appearances at public meetings and even trying to get through with a question at Mayor Bill Finch’s telephone town hall meeting Tuesday night. Did anyone listen in? Walker listened, but as the Black Rock resident writes in a comment to OIB, his question was not taken. Walker’s observations:
Mayor Finch just doesn’t get it. This City is one of the highest taxed and most regulated in the country. More importantly, his Administration has made it worse not better. The facts are that total property taxes have increased significantly during his tenure and he wants to increase them again! In addition, his spending reductions have been inadequate. What about almost $1 billion in unfunded retiree health promises that are outrageous, unaffordable and unsustainable. What about the Mayor and several top city managers, including the City Council President, getting significant raises last year when taxes had to be raised? I sat on his tele-Town Hall last night for over an hour. It was supposed to be about the budget but was badly mismanaged by the screeners. Less than half the questions/comments related to the budget. Needless to say, they didn’t take my question. Namely, why can’t Bridgeport cut spending when most governments can? Doesn’t the Mayor understand that higher taxes will make Bridgeport less attractive for both businesses and individuals. It’s time for City Hall to wake up and get serious if it wants to avoid bankruptcy.
I went to the B & A meeting last night and it is a perfect example of why we can get nothing done when it comes to budget cuts.
First off let me say the total disrespect for the public is evident at most meetings as they never start on time. Last night the meeting started at 6:20 PM. Once it got started it was time for Pizza and soda for all in attendance except the public. Public facilities supplied eight pizzas, or I should say the taxpayers supplied the pizza. Once this was done the meeting started.
The amazing thing that happened was when one of the public facilities bigwigs stated they had found significant savings in the recycling program and informed Tom Sherwood. Not One and I mean NOT ONE B & A member or council person in attendance asked about this new form of savings.
Charlie the empire builder Carroll told the committee he was looking into taking over the transfer station so the city would make more money. He is looking to do this in the next year or so. He told the committee he wold need to buy all types of equipment and hire more employees. Not one question from the committee.
It is painfully obvious these meetings are a sham and a dog and pony show and Sherwood would actually make the cuts. This committee is in so far over their heads you could almost feel sorry for how gutless they are.
I signed up for the teleconference and never heard back from anyone. They must be doing selective governing. I am only a taxpayer.
I didn’t sign up and got the call anyway … you didn’t miss much.
Another tidbit from the B & A meeting last night. Charlie Carroll when questioned on the city’s response to the blizzard stated if he had the unfilled six positions in the roadway unit it would have made a difference. BULLSHIT!!! Charlie, one of you management people pulled all the plows off the road at 8PM Friday night. You have been using seasonals for years so there really should not have been a shortage of drivers. Charlie, you and your management team suffer from PPP aka Piss Poor Planning, it’s as simple as that.
I tuned in late, just during the Q&A at 8pm, so I don’t know how many questions were asked about tax issues. I wonder what people thought about the question on charter schools and follow-up questions and the Mayor’s response.
I don’t trust this guy any more than I trust Finch. He is a publicity hound with an agenda. Just like Vallas he went from a high-profile job to B’port … let the buyer beware.
One more thing from last night’s B & A meeting. Public Facilities gave a presentation on recycling and how it relates to the school system.
Public Facilities stated the teachers and principals were not doing a good job recycling. They stated the principals and teachers should receive reviews grading them on their recycling ability. I get the impression Public facilities think they are the only ones in the city who know anything. Let me tell you, that is total bullshit. I want the teachers to worry about teaching the kids and not some silly-ass recycling project. Public Facilities should worry about plowing and road maintenance, not recycling in the schools. There were enough upper management people there from Public facilities they could have fielded their own baseball team.
Guess what Andy, recycling is important and is not only good for the environment, it saves the city money. And I give Finch an F in this area too.
I hope you’re wearing your uniform when you walk and talk, Mr. Walker. OIB has ordered all readers and posters to wear uniforms when entering OIB. For the best prices in OIB uniforms, call Bridgeport BOE member Hernan Illingworth for a quote:
*** The overall telephone town meeting with the Mayor was a controlled screened joke at best. Budget P/R and fingerpointing about State and Fed cuts with a lot of could of, should of and next time empty promises, left callers and listeners just as frustrated and confused about the budget tax and mil rate hikes as before they called or listened to the Q&A’s. This tele-phoney attempt to hear questions from taxpayers about the proposed city budget and more budget transparency from city government seemed to be a complete failure, no? *** What say you, OIB? ***
Five men were hired 10 months ago in the Roadway Dept. They did not have CDLs. They still do not have CDLs (Commercial Drivers License). Why? They could have operated a plow truck instead of a snow shovel. These are Bill Finch’s people. Good call! Hire men in Roadway with no CDL. THIS IS HOW THE CITY OPERATES. At least I can sleep at night as I did not vote for this clown! I hope if they hire six more people, they are qualified! My bet is they will buy new equipment and only half the Dept will be able to operate it, if that. Great job Bill, keep up the good work!
I thought a policy was instituted years ago that every new employee of PF MUST have a CDL. Why was an exception made for six people? I guess that explains why there was a shortage of drivers.
Walker is a talker, never seen a plan from him to solve the city problems it’s always a lot of talk about nothing but talking. He talks about snow removal, but has no plan on how to pay for it. BAH BAH BAH.
JL, too bad you do not go to any budget meetings–Walker submitted very real plans for budget reform, verbally and in writing. But then trolls do not take the time to research facts, do they?
If you ever came to City Council public hearings you would know I have offered a number of specific suggestions on the budget.
James Louloudes, I agree with you, Walker is just a talker, he brings nothing new to the table and the main thing he talks about is taking retiree health care.
Perhaps Mr. Walker’s critics might enlighten us with a listing of their respective accomplishments. Talkers who know of what they speak generally foster a curiosity that could lead to public awareness of current municipal irregularities.
yahooy, tell us what Walker has DONE and his accomplishments with employees health care plans, not what he is saying but what he has done.
Having read your posts for some time, I have suggested we meet, perhaps over coffee, for further discussion. Never have heard from you. Your right to ignore multiple offers, certainly, but the offer remains on the table.
However, as time passes, I take it you only have one or two subjects you hold precious, and one of them is OTHER POST-EMPLOYMENT BENEFITS. Is that correct?
You are in favor of OPEB and as a Pension Plan A retiree, of getting those retirement benefits. Understandable, certainly. You put your life on the line. You did the requisite time. You want the benefit. How does eligibility for Medicare change anything? What research have you done to show how administration after administration has kicked the can down the road, worsening the position of all retirees? Do you have anything to say about what happens with a pay as you go plan for retiree healthcare with hundreds of millions of unfunded liabilities like Bridgeport? What happens when the public finally looks around to see benefits are being paid to former employees who have always lived out of town, who have no face, whose former union no longer represents them and whose taxpayers find it easy to pass over the old? And what happens with Pension A if market volatility reduces the Trust assets significantly while the annually retirees are funded at $32 Million per year and taxpayers also fund $16 million from Police and $14 million from Fire budgets for Pension Obligation bonds? And the City finds itself broke? Shouldn’t you be looking at the problem yourself?
You seem to be sitting in the middle of the track. The light you see is not the germ of a great idea, or any match you have lit. There is an oncoming train, not just in Bridgeport, that will rewrite healthcare in the US and probably many benefit systems and plans as well. Why are you not advocating more support of retiree action? The recent flurry of news on Fire Pension B Trustee actions to protect the future of those retired is deserving of support, because, as I have recently learned, unions are all for the active working, not for those who have left the field of public service.
So the questions you ask of Walker, or others, might reasonably be asked of you. Sitting alone and calling others out fails to deal with issues important to you, to other retirees as well as to the entire system of public financing of benefits. Time will tell.
Don’t do it, Ron. The coffee at Harborview tastes awful.
According to this article Walker and others who want to slash public budgets because of the so-called debt crisis are Chicken Littles … I think they know better and have some other agenda. Could it be they want to bust public-sector unions just like they have destroyed the livelihoods of private-sector workers … Hmmm.
I’m not defending Walker. But the man knows retirement funding plans. What you don’t seem to realize is your future as a retired fireman is UNFUNDED. What he is saying is the current administration does not have the capacity to implement those measures that will safeguard your future. You signed on, worked hard and retired based upon a promise. That promise has a shaky foundation. Walker has done nothing to put into effect plans to ensure stability … so far.
In the Hartford Courant, April 18, there is an article concerning David Walker. The article states Walker, who moved to Bridgeport three years ago–“I didn’t realize it was ground zero for fiscal irresponsibility,” Now this is David M. Walker, a former Comptroller General of the United States and head of the Government Accountability Office under presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush who bought the home of former Congressman Chris Shays, this self-proclaimed “expert” and he moves to Bridgeport, CT not knowing about the high taxes, crime and dysfunctional City government?
Further comments in the Hartford Courant, Connecticut must cap state employee retiree health benefits and sharply raise fees for all sorts of state services in order to halt a long-term fiscal slide that is, in some ways, the worst in the nation. That was the advice Monday from David M. Walker.
Overall, the state has shrunk its health benefits liability from $31 billion to $17 billion, said Robert Rinker, executive director of the Connecticut State Employees Association, by aggressively bargaining with insurers, managing chronic disease care and setting up a fund in which employees hired after July 1, 2005 will pay 3 percent of wages, to be matched by the state after 2017.
Rinker wouldn’t even concede Walker’s idea to cap benefits would even save taxpayers’ money, let alone that it would fly politically.
“He’s absolutely dead wrong, because then people do not get the care they need to get,” said Rinker, a longtime member of the state’s health care cost containment committee. “If people have to pay for chronic disease management, that will cost the plan a lot of money … keep them healthy … It’s a completely ass-backward way of looking at health care.”
Rinker has a direct conflict of interest and missed my major point. The changes he refers are overwhelmingly changes in assumptions rather than funding and plan design. That is largely smoke and mirrors. The plans are unreasonable, unaffordable and unsustainable. Fairness is a two-way street. The taxpayers who pay the bills need to be considered too.
And you don’t, Walker? Your whole career is a revolving door between high levels of the business world and appointed govt positions. And just looking at your web page it sure looks like you make a lot of money speaking to business groups … sounds like your position turned into quite a payday for you or are you donating it all to charities that help the poor?
Thank goodness there are a few people willing to move to Bridgeport to maintain a real estate market. It is hard to see our dysfunctional governance until you start looking, then it becomes something that shows up everywhere. The exceptions surround people who stand up to a higher level of responsibility and understanding and do the research, study the choices and make a hard decision they will discuss, support and defend publicly. Not enough of those in Bridgeport for sure. And those who might act in that way are not appointed. And if one or two slip through and might not see things exactly the way this administration sees it, well you ask them for a resignation letter to be placed in their file while they are serving the “initial” term of office before expiry. Any training, ethical or otherwise? Not really necessary. Go to meetings. We’ll indicate where we need your vote. No need to think or ask questions. You are a “puppet” and I am in charge. Got it? And that sums up the volunteer service experience in Bridgeport unfortunately. Any comments to the contrary? If so, please explain the large number of vacancies currently. And the huge number of people serving expired terms? Whose agenda do they serve? Time will tell.
So Walker moved here out of the goodness of his heart to prop up your real estate values? Really JML … what is Torres putting in your morning battery acid?
I’m not going to let someone piss on me and then tell me it’s raining.
John Marshall Lee, there are other Bridgeport firefighters who post on OIB who I respected as firefighters like Donald Day, BARF and Andy Fardy. David Walker piss is taking away firefighters’ health benefits, now you might go along with his positions but I don’t.
JML likes to rattle on and on and on.
Spoken like a man in a sateen jacket and ball cap. JML and others are trying to tell you you don’t get it and quite possibly never will. Your benefits are structured on a sand pile. Most of which was put into effect to appease with no basis for establishing a lasting source from which to fund. Sadly that “source” is every one of us who gets a tax bill.
And people like Walker and others want to make sure his benefits get cut … maybe YOU get it and you don’t care these guys who put their lives on the line will get their pensions cut so Walker who moved here knowing full well what the situation here is (I mean he bought the house from Shays) can lower his own taxes … and he still never completely answered the question about the Virginia car …
Do me a favor. Go to school. Come back when you’re done. Then respond lucidly to my observation. All municipal retiree benefit packages are bloated because the back end is perceived to be bottomless. It’s not. When there is no more money and there is no way to get more money, these bloated benefits will be restructured.
Walker doesn’t appear to be advocating the lowering of anybody’s benefits in retirement. He is merely pointing out it is inevitable these benefits have absolutely no hope of being sustained by even the most remote of possibilities. Sooner or later, an independent body appointed by some worthy authority will come in and invalidate such contracts as we have seen emerging around the country. You’ll have good benefits for which you will participate in the cost.
He most certainly is. That is why Peterson hired him to run his phoney “charitable foundation” keeping taxes for billionaires lower. What a concept, charity for billionaires. I’m quite educated enough to know Walker is full of it.
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Stupid is as stupid does. Walker knows what he is talking about. Truth hurts. Municipal contract negotiations especially in Bridgeport lead to this type of angst. Should never have happened in the first place. Stratford is next. Their Fire Department contracts are pure extortion.
Stupid is drinking Walker Kool-aid … there is a movement to destroy public unions and I think Walker is part of it. I find it a little curious someone who was so high profile all of a sudden decides to get involved in the affairs of a modestly sized city … but you can bet they will bring in someone making megabucks while low-level city workers and ordinary taxpayers and renters get screwed.
My comment refers to what is happening in states all over the country where conservative governors are overthrowing elected city governments with so-called fiscal managers who don’t answer to the people of these cities … curiously these are minority majority cities.
BlackRockGuy, I agree with you and time will tell. David Walker’s spin statement is, “the taxpayers who pay the bills need to be considered too.” Now pray tell who does not agree with that but Walker’s only solution is Connecticut must cap employee retiree health benefits.
As I post yesterday from the Hartford Courant, Robert Rinker, executive director of the Connecticut State Employees Association, by aggressively bargaining with insurers, managing chronic disease care and setting up a fund in which employees hired after July 1, 2005 will pay 3 percent of wages, to be matched by the state after 2017.
Rinker wouldn’t even concede that Walker’s idea to cap benefits would even save taxpayers’ money, let alone that it would fly politically.
“He’s absolutely dead wrong, because then people do not get the care they need to get,” said Rinker, a longtime member of the state’s health care cost containment committee. “If people have to pay for chronic disease management, that will cost the plan a lot of money … keep them healthy … It’s a completely ass-backward way of looking at health care.” Walker’s reply to me, “That is largely smoke and mirrors. The plans are unreasonable, unaffordable and unsustainable. Fairness is a two-way street. The taxpayers who pay the bills need to be considered too.” Walker doesn’t even have a plan beside taking health benefits from retirees.
BlackRockGuy, what is happening in states all over the country where conservative governors are overthrowing elected city governments with so-called fiscal managers who don’t answer to the people of these cities … curiously these are minority majority cities.
That is easy for Walker to say, he is probably making a nice buck running that “foundation” of his and I am sure he makes a nice buck from speaking tours and his “books.” He doesn’t have to worry about choosing between obtaining health care and having a roof over his head like most of us do.
BRG, have you ever considered Walker earned his financial success?
Sorry, I don’t admire people just because they have “financial success.”